Corona virus attacked the world towards the end of 2019. It is popularly known as “covid 19” this virus was first detected in the Chinese people and spread all over the world. The major reason covid 19 spread quickly around the world was due to movement of people around the world. Some were trying to return back to their native countries while some were on duty and others were tourists. The pandemic led to countries having to think of measures to curb the diseases so as to avoid and or reduce its impacts on the people and economy. All the industries were affected, and here we are going to discuss the impacts felt by the construction industry.
- Project performance downfall
Construction and build industry are powered mostly by manual labour, being the people, without labour it’s difficult for construction phase of a project to take off. Many countries resorted to “lockdown” as means of preventing people’s movements so as to try and reduce the spread of corona virus, everyone stayed home and all the construction projects that were on implementation stage had to stop. The reduction of lockdown measures by allowing a certain percent of workers to return did not favour the build and construction industry as many workers were home, and some planned activities had to be postponed, works were going at a snail pace due to shortage of staff.
The above problem could be solved by introduction of site camps which will accommodate construction workers and also to isolate them from the community. Health workers would be visiting the site to ensure compliance with the health regulations.
- Cash flow problems
As we know that the main contractor survives by claiming for work done on a monthly basis so as to pay employees and be able to buy material required. Covid 19 changed lot of things, some employees being quarantined meant that the site works are not achieved or there is slow production thus the main contractor does not claim sufficient money to run the site. Peaceful demonstrations by workers were all over due to low salaries.
The above problem can be solved by interference of the government to help the contractors by monetary subsidies so as to pay the employees needs are also met.
- Project completion delays
Government introduced lockdown which took month therefore construction sites were closed with no production this means that projects that were to completed in the year 2020 will miss the hand over date. I am proposing that governments should make a formal announcement that no contractor should be charged for liquated damages due to the fact that covid 19 was beyond the contractors control. All contractors should be given extension of time equalling time loss due to lockdown. The delay was also caused supply of material, of which truck drivers had to wait at the boarders for their results before being allowed to enter the country.
- Prioritising funding of some projects
The new normal required washing of hands regularly with clean water and soap. Opening schools forced government to divert funds in order to construct such facilities as washing areas and toilets in schools. The government used lot of money so some already awarded projects had to postponed due to lack of funding, most projects that were funded were those that deals with water supply, building of toilets in schools, installation of water supply systems, so all those projects that did not fall in the above categories had to be postponed. So many contractors did not make any profit this current financial year.
My proposal is that all those contractors who tendered for those works that were postponed be given one of the prioritised projects so as they can also make profits.
- Changing government executive powers
There was introduction of Public State of Emergency in Botswana of which the government executive were powers to take some decisions without consultation. Some of the powers is that construction tenders be awarded without the tendering process, as long the contractors suits or satisfies the criterion set by government executive they are awarded a tender. Many construction tenders were awarded without tendering procedure of which some contractors felt that the move brewed corruption between government officials and company owners.
My opinion is that there could be a tendering process in every tender so as the award of that tender becomes fair and we avoid court cases arising due to some unhappy contractors.
Written by: Tumo Prince Marumo